I turned 52 on Friday.
Sometimes I just have to scratch my head and wonder how I got to be this old. And I do the maths (a couple of times because my maths skills aren't as sharp as they used to be) just to make sure that I really am this old and it's not all just an hallucination. It never is. I really am this old.
When I was growing up being 50 meant your life was well on the way to being over. There was a certain look to women of a certain age. They all wore dresses and make-up. I can't remember any who wore shorts - even when playing tennis (the only publicly sanctioned exercise in the circles I was part of). And not being able to wear shorts meant that all the good times were over. No more climbing trees or bike rides or pretending you were a horse while running up the beach.
A lot of those women were fairly generously proportioned too - which may have been why shorts weren't part of their wardrobes. Apparently this was a side-effect from having babies. They put on weight when they got pregnant and never returned to the slimness of their youth. They wore step-ins (think spanx) to keep their jiggly bits from jiggling too vigorously and to give their legs that special sausage appearance where the fat was squeezed out below the hemline. And the older you got, the cuddlier you got. This was just what happened to middle aged women.
But within my extended family I'd heard whispers of rebels. Ladies who didn't toe the party line. Runners no less. They toed lines - but only start lines.
I'd like to think that they were the ones that planted the seed. That I did not have to go gentle into that good night. That I could rage against the dying of the light - because wearing dresses and make-up and not being able to cut loose and run because that's-not-what-ladies-do seemed like a death of sorts.
If you had asked the ten year old me what I would have been doing at 52 it would probably have been some permutation of the lady in the floral dress, with a pretty floral aroma, heels (but sensible ones) and taking tea with scones and clotted cream and dainty little sandwiches with the crusts cut off. I used to read a lot of English stories when I was ten.
My 52 year old reality is so much different.
It involves alarm clocks that wake you up before 5 am. It involves messages from men, who are not your husband, asking to meet in the dark. It involves short shorts, bright running shoes, technical, wicking fabric and hi-tech watches. It involves sweat - copious amounts of sweat. It involves hours of exertion that kind of hurts but in a strange but addictive way, feels incredibly good. And it usually involves a well-deserved coffee at the end.
The day after my birthday was spent doing what I love most. Running for a couple of hours with friends. Training for a marathon that I would never have believed a woman of advanced years would be able to do. Then spending the afternoon lounging around, recovering. After all I'm getting older now and my body needs all the recovery it can get for the next week of hard training.
It also involved a little bit of this.
And it involved a lot of gratitude that times have changed.
Progress! Isn't it marvellous? I hope the next two decades hold just as much progress because I'd like to be just as fabulous - and still running - at 52. (Some things shouldn't change though - like chocolate cake.)ReplyDelete
That cake looks amazing.ReplyDelete
I still feel very young and immature - waiting for adulthood to kick in. Then I remember I'm 47 and if I let myself I think that sounds really old. Once upon a time fun stuff only happened to those in their 20s and sometimes their 30s.
Of course then I remember the whole 'you're only as young as you feel' thing, and perhaps it's true. But I'm sure 40 is the new 30, and 50 is the new 40. etc.
As much as I like to think I am never going to grow up I'm wrong... The mirrow doesn't lie! and the body keeps telling me it's old, but that never stops me asking it... I was up at 04h00 for a race this weekend, and I was young enough for 27 of the 30km. I was in shorts most of the weekend (did see an evening show so needed to look smart!).ReplyDelete
So if 50 is the new 40 you had better watch out, the men are going to be checking you out!
Great post Char! I'm with you 100% on this one. The one thing that I have in my life is a dad that also ran when he was this age and even more and definitely more serious than I am. But he ran without any technology. He ran his first few marathons with a normal analog watch just to keep track of how late it was... I think we are quite healthy for our age although my body is talking to me more now than ever before.ReplyDelete
I'm right here with you my friend! Heck back when we were kids we thought 40 was granny-on-the-rocker time. I didn't even think about gasp! 50! I'd like to think times have changed. Now talk me through that cake so I can pretend I'm having someReplyDelete
I know exactly what you mean Char. I scratch my head too. Where did the time go? Fifty meant a tight grey perm and stockings to me when I was young. Happy birthday for last Friday. You're still young from where I'm sitting :)ReplyDelete
Happy #52!! Did you make your own cake? It looks awesome!ReplyDelete
Running definitely keeps us young - you don't look like so many of the 52 year olds I know:)
This is my favorite post of yours ever! Happy birthday!ReplyDelete
Thank God times have changed for the better!ReplyDelete
So true Char - Michael and I were just talking about this the other day. It just seems like we're all so much younger acting than our predecessors. And I have no intention of growing up, even though I'm growing older.ReplyDelete
I agree that times have changed and thank goodness for that. Otherwise we would be sitting on the couch eating chocolate and watching daytime tv at our age :)ReplyDelete
People above 40 are so much more active these days and stay active the older they get. Gotta love it.
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I've been really interested in your post. Great thoughts!ReplyDelete
You sometimes get messages from men asking to meet in the dark ... your husband may think you pretend to go running ... just joking :)
that cake looks amazing! And Happy Birthday! We almost shared one!!!! HUZZAH!ReplyDelete
I'm pretty sure if angels made a cake it would look like that. Happy birthday!!! I love the part about getting messages from men that aren't your husband to meet in the dark!ReplyDelete
Great post, Char. Just a month behind you in the 52nd year, I remember all these things, too. I remember when I went to grade school we had to wear dresses. I loved those simplier times...not that I don't now but it was just a time of sweet innocence. I hope you enjoyed every morsal of that cake. Happy 52nd, my friend!! I hope it's a great year for you....for us...for all 52 year olds! :)ReplyDelete